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The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture

Administration Building
(23167.22, Oklahoma Historical Society Photograph Collection, OHS).


Established at Durant by legislative fiat on March 6, 1909, Southeastern Oklahoma State University first opened its doors to students on June 14, 1909, as Southeastern State Normal School (SEN). Created to train teachers for the public schools, primarily in a twelve-county area, SEN's instructional program offered four years of high school and junior college. Pending completion of the Administration and Classroom Building in January 1911, later renamed Morrison Hall, sessions were held in various churches and public school buildings.

Until 1921 SEN served its historic purpose by graduating many who held a life teaching certificate, as well as holding summer sessions that featured special classes that further trained thousands of returning teachers. A dramatic new phase came in 1921 when the institution became a four-year college. Renamed Southeastern State Teachers College (STC), the school began to award the degrees of bachelor of arts or science in education.

A dramatic third period of program and name changes occurred in 1939 when STC was permitted to change its function to a liberal arts college. The institution, renamed Southeastern State College (SSC), was authorized to award two new degrees, a bachelor of arts or science. Southeastern also began to offer two years of general education, as well as preprofessional training in areas such as education, engineering, dentistry, law, medicine, and technology. In 1954 SSC was allowed to start a fifth-year master of teaching degree, retitled the master of education in 1969.

A fourth institutional phase came in 1968 when the State Regents designated SSC as an Area Community College. Accordingly, the curriculum was augmented to award degrees in aviation, business, conservation, and technology. In March 1993 the State Regents approved another program expansion. The master of education became the master of behavioral studies, a plan that included four options in addition to education. Also, a new graduate program in business was approved and became a master of administrative studies.

The fifth and current period of institutional history began on August 15, 1974, when SSC became Southeastern Oklahoma State University (SOSU). Since that date the school has reorganized and diversified many times. Currently, there are three academic schools: Arts and Sciences, Business, and Education and Behavioral Sciences. Further, in 1997 the State Regents approved a master of business administration, and five undergraduate business programs were reordered to become the bachelor of business administration degree. In the last fifteen years great attention has also been placed on the importance of research/scholarship, public service, and economic development.

Known as "the School of the Rising Sun" and "the Campus of a Thousand Magnolias," Southeastern Oklahoma State University has experienced great growth from its initial campus of twenty bare acres to one of 161 acres and sixty-two buildings. The thirty-nine faculty and 324 students of 1909 now number, respectively, approximately 160 and more than 4,000. Functionally, the institution continues its mission of serving the citizens of southeastern Oklahoma. Philosophically, the institution, as stated in the college catalog at the turn of the twenty-first century, provides its students with "teachers, courses, and an intellectual atmosphere which presents viable options to the way humankind views the world."

L. David Norris


Biennial Reports of the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education (Oklahoma City: Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education, 1942–2000).

Henry MacCreary, A Story of Durant: "Queen of Three Valleys" (Durant, Okla.: Democrat Printing Co., 1946).

L. David Norris, Southeastern Oklahoma State University Since 1909, Vol. 1 (Durant, Okla.: Mesa Publishing Co., 1986).

Southeastern Oklahoma State University, Annual Bulletins (Durant, Okla.: N.p., 1909–2000).

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The following (as per The Chicago Manual of Style, 17th edition) is the preferred citation for articles:
L. David Norris, “Southeastern Oklahoma State University,” The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture, https://www.okhistory.org/publications/enc/entry?entry=SO013.

Published January 15, 2010

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